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The Amorality Of Dick Cheney And The Right In Response To The Truth About C.I.A. Torture

Dick Cheney

Vice-President Cheney’s amoral defense of torture has come to define how most conservatives view the issue, and that’s a problem.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Laughed Off Waterboarding

waterboarding

Marc Thiessen claims Khalid Sheikh Mohammad mocked the CIA interrogators who waterboarded him.

Torture Creep?

waterboarding-justified

The defense of torture as an extreme measure for extraordinary circumstances has evolved.tortu

Solitary Confinement as Torture

solitary-confinement

WikiLeaker Bradley Manning has been held “under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture” for seven months and counting.

Soldier Waterboards Daughter Over ABCs

military-soldier-sunset

A British tabloid report of a soldier who waterboarded his 4-year-old daughter for failing to learn the alphabet is making the rounds. Joshua Tabor admitted to police he had used the CIA torture technique because he was so angry. As his daughter ‘squirmed’ to get away, Tabor said he submerged her face three or four […]

Obama Orders Americans Killed

kill-em-all

American special operators and intel types are teaming up with Yemeni forces to kill bad guys there, Dana Priest reports.  But Glenn Greenwald is most interested in the third paragraph: As part of the operations, Obama approved a Dec. 24 strike against a compound where a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, was thought to be meeting […]

White House: Dismiss John Yoo Lawsuit

John Yoo Lawsuit

The Obama administration is fighting to dismiss Jose Padilla’s lawsuit against John Yoo, citing executive privilege. The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing former Bush administration attorney John Yoo of authorizing the torture of a terrorism suspect, saying federal law does not allow damage claims against lawyers who advise […]

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Trial

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

I was out of pocket for a few days visiting the folks in Alabama and missed commenting on a few stories.  Most notable among these was Friday’s announcement that five Guantanamo Bay detainees, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, would be tried in New York. This one’s a real head scratcher, in that I see […]

The Neuroscience of “Enhanced Interrogation”

intellectual-invention

Wired reports that studies show that “enhanced interrogation”, far from being a reliable source of information, can actually make someone less of an intelligence asset because the stress involved changes the biochemistry of the brain: “There is a vast literature on the effects of extreme stress on motivation, mood and memory, using both animals and […]

How Torture Undermines National Security

us-politics

Via Patrick Appel, former FBI counterintelligence agent Asha Rangappa explains how the use of torture can undermine the United States’ ability to both obtain information and recruit double agents. A second and arguably more important goal of the FBI is to persuade some of these people, or “targets,” to change sides and share the information […]

Hillary Clinton’s Congo Blow-Up

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Hillary Clinton chewed out a Congolese student for asking what “Mr. Clinton” thought about a public policy issue: ABC’s Kirit Radia: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost her cool Monday after a Congolese student, speaking through a translator, asked her what “Mr. Clinton” thought about a Chinese trade deal with the Democratic Republic of the […]

How the FBI Broke Saddam

Saddam Hussein FBI Interrogation

James Gordon Meek has a very interesting two-part story on how FBI Special Agent George Piro successfully interrogated Saddam Hussein.  Shockingly, it does not involve waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, nudity, or German shephards. The FBI prides itself on “rapport-based” interrogations that have a high success rate for yielding confessions from the likes of 1993 […]

Overstatement of the Day – Torture Edition

Bush Cheney

“It appears that waterboarding – a torture technique popularized by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney – has been picked up overseas.” –  Andrew Sullivan Now, look, I’m opposed to torturing suspected terrorists.  But the United States Government waterboarded a grand total of three of them during the Bush-Cheney tenure.  So let’s not pretend it […]

Ted Rall: Obama Should Resign

ted_rall

It’s been years since I’ve quoted Ted Rall here. He hasn’t appeared in a post title since September 2005’s “Rall: Charities are for Suckers.”  The man’s eminently quotable, if in a train wreck sort of way, but constantly pointing out that some commentators are crazy attention whores really doesn’t advance the debate much. But you’ve […]

Levin: Cheney Lying About CIA Memos

cheney-levin

Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin claims that former Vice-President Dick Cheney is lying when he claims that classified CIA memos show that Bush Administration ordered torture/enhanced interrogation techniques produced actionable intelligence that saved American lives. Levin, speaking at the Foreign Policy Association’s annual dinner in Washington on Wednesday, said an investigation […]

Alexander vs. Cheney on Interrogation

military-soldier-sunset

The video embedded below features arguments presented by Dick Cheney in favor of torture (or, if you prefer, “enhanced interrogation techniques”), which are ably demolished by Matthew Alexander, a former member of the United States Air Force who served as an Interrogator in Iraq. He was part of a task force charged with determining the […]

White House Lawyers vs. Military Lawyers on Torture

armyjag

One thing that’s also worth noting in the debate over the Bush Administration’s torture program is that while the Office of Legal Counsel did sign off on the techniques used (with memos so bad that the lawyers in question are soon to be under investigation for a breach of their professional duties), the fact remains […]

Preventative Detention

obama-gitmo-speech

Hilzoy pronounces herself “happy as a clam” with President Obama’s speech yesterday on national security issues, with one glaring exception: But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat […]

SERE Training and Torture

sere-patch

One distressing meme that has spread with respect to the idea that because some of the techniques employed against captives in American detention camps are the same as those used in SERE training, these techniques must somehow “not be torture.” This is not a well-founded assertion. For those making that claim, I would highly recommend […]

Quote of the Day – Torture Trials Edition

us-politics

“Well, conservative, conshmervative – even Karl Rove would pay good money to see Pelosi handcuffed to Dick Cheney.” – Kate McMillan responding to news that the then-Minority Whip and top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee was briefed on the use of “enhanced interogation techniques” in the fall of 2002 and “gave it her stamp […]

We’re Not the Khmer Rouge!

Richard Fernandez laments that, “History will probably remember the Guantanamo Bay prison for longer than the already forgotten Prison S-21, where up to 20,000 people were tortured and killed by the Khmer Rouge.” As for me, I prefer being held to a higher set of standards than Pol Pot.  I mean, of course we’re better […]

UN Demands Torture Prosecutions

Austria UN Torture

Manfred Nowak, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on torture, proclaimed yesterday that the United States must prosecute the lawyers who drew up the torture memos and that if we fail to do so it is the duty of other states to step in and bring charges. In my New Atlanticist piece, “UN: United States Must Prosecute […]

Quote of the Day – Torture Edition

“[E]ven if we stipulate that torture had produced vital information in some particular instance when no other method would have worked—and it’s not remotely clear at this point that we should stipulate to any such thing—this is a wildly confused way to frame the question. Sooner or later, someone wins the lottery. For that person, […]

Quote of the Day – Repugnant Edition

michael-goldfarb

“For those most committed to the ridiculous crusade for terrorist rights, ‘enhanced interrogation’ is not only immoral and illegal, it’s ineffective. That argument, like Khalid Sheik Mohamed, doesn’t hold water.” – Michael Goldfarb One wonders what John McCain, who suffered torture for five years as a guest of the North Vietnamese and whose campaign employed […]

Shepard Smith: America Doesn’t Torture

newsman

I’m amused by Nico Pitney’s headline, “Shepard Smith Uncensored: “We Are America, We Do Not F**king Torture!” (VIDEO).”  Mostly because it censors Shepard Smith. But the Left’s sudden embrace of Smith is interesting, too. It may have begun with this recent Esquire profile. He has always managed to be a part of Fox and apart […]

OTB Radio – Tonight at 7 Eastern

The next episode of OTB Radio, our BlogTalkRadio program, will record and air live tonight from 7-8 Eastern. As usual, Dave Schuler will co-host. We’ll be joined tonight by Bernard Finel, a senior fellow at the American Security Project and blogger at his eponymous site and elsewhere. We’ll talk about the torture memos, Russia’s Near […]

Torture and Sex: Moral Relativism or Morally Unrelated?

apple-orange

Kevin Drum observes, When the subject has anything to do with sex, the right in America is the party of moral absolutes.  We know what’s right, we know what’s wrong, and even if there’s a price to pay we can’t shirk our responsibility to set a proper example and do the right thing. But when […]

Torture Worked! Foiled Los Angeles Attack! Yay Torture!

jack-bauer-24

After several days of inflamed public debate following official confirmation that the United States government tortured suspected terrorists under specific authorization from the Bush administration, the inevitable pushback has begun.  Several reports now suggest that these extreme interrogation techniques had the desired effect, yielding valuable intelligence that saved lives. The most interesting of these, alas, […]

Hit Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 Times with a Baseball Bat!

baseball-bat

Stacy McCain offers a rejoinder to those of us queasy about the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in his first month in U.S. custody. Look, we hanged Saddam Hussein and sent the 101st Airborne to kill Saddam’s sons, Uday and Qusay. What is “waterboarding” compared to violent death? Who could possibly […]

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Waterboarded 183 Times

Guantanamo

Marcy Wheeler picks an interesting factoid out of the “Bradford memo,” one of several documents detailing the interogation techniques used by the U.S. intelligence community released last week by the Obama administration:  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 (his first month in custody) alone. As noted repeatedly on this site and […]

Will Obama Keep His Word Today?

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Glenn Grennwald notes that today marks a crucial step in determining whether Obama will uphold the rule of law. Today is the most significant test yet determining the sincerity of Barack Obama’s commitment to restore the Constitution, transparency and the rule of law. After seeking and obtaining multiple extensions of the deadline, today is the […]

Andrew Sullivan Profile

andrew-sullivan-thinking-out-loud

This profile of Andrew Sullivan in Intelligent Life by his friend Johann Hari is quite good.  This ‘graph is especially noteworthy: Sullivan is often accused of flip-flopping according to political expediency, but it’s revealing that almost all the later tensions in his thought are prefigured in his writings about Oakeshott from his early 20s, recently […]

South Park Baathists

southpark-saddam-satan

“South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker tell The Telegraph that they got a signed picture of Saddam Hussein from some Iraq Marines. During his captivity, US marines forced Saddam, who was executed in 2006, to repeatedly watch the move South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut, which shows him as gay, as well as […]

Lincoln Worse Than Bush!

military-soldier-sunset

Brian Moore shreds a Slate piece by John Fabian that praises Abraham Lincoln’s efforts on the laws of war that “built the code that Bush attempted to destroy.” The piece manages to compliment Lincoln for being both heroically restrained and heroically aggressive when it came to the laws of war.  It simultaneously honors him for […]

Obama Invokes State Secrets Privilege

top-secret-folder

Meet the new boss — same as the old boss: In a closely watched case involving rendition and torture, a lawyer for the Obama administration seemed to surprise a panel of federal appeals judges on Monday by pressing ahead with an argument for preserving state secrets originally developed by the Bush administration. In the case, […]

Unilateral Ceasefire with al Qaeda?

Osama bin Laden Photo

In my New Atlanticist post “Ceasefire with al Qaeda?” I examine a proposal for a four-month ceasefire with al Qaeda proposed by a prominent Islamist in reaction to President Obama’s orders to end torture, close secret prisons, and shutter Guantanamo. Not to spoil it for you, but I’m skeptical.

‘We Tortured Mohammed al Qahtani’

mohammed-al-qahtani

The blogosphere is abuzz over an issue of semantics. The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, […]

CIA Viagra Torture Not Funny!

military-soldier-sunset

With respect to the generally humorous tone with which the blogosphere, yours truly included, greeted the news that the CIA is giving Viagra to Afghan chieftains in hopes of softening them up psychologically by temporarily doing the converse physically, Kathy Kattenburg is concerned that 1) the wives of the chieftain in question may not be […]

Obama Picks Warren, Angers Gays

Rick Warren and Barack Obama

President-Elect Barack Obama has made the most controversial move thus far in his transition, naming far right televangelist Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.  While this initially struck me as a brilliant move on his part, winning points with Evangelical Christians with little downside, the announcement has sparked outrage in the gay […]

Lynndie England NOT U.S. Policy

Lyndie England Abu Ghraib

Ezra Klein applies the headline “Doing Her Job” to this infamous photo of Lyndie England. It was not a few bad apples. It was not the chaos of war. It was official U.S. government policy. The release of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Report on Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody makes that perfectly clear. […]

New at New Atlanticist

new-atlanticist-logo-cropped

After a three month experiment and some discussions with regular readers, we’ve decided to suspend operations on the Atlantic Council’s breaking news blog, Atlantic Update, and to consolidate it into New Atlanticist.  The result, I hope, will be one, livelier blog that becomes a hub of discussion about transatlantic issues. While I’d still prefer that […]

Obama Mocks McCain’s Computer Skills

us-politics

The Obama campaign launched a new ad yesterday, “Still,” which mocks John McCain for being out of touch because, among other things, he “doesn’t know how to use a computer” and “can’t send an email.” The Charge: McCain Computer Illiterate The key ‘graph in its entirety: Things have changed in the last 26 years, but […]

The Angry Left

us-politics

I caught a bit of the Republican Convention last evening, including the Ronald Reagan tribute and as much of the Fred Thompson speech as I could take before shutting it off. I TiVo’d Joe Lieberman but it’s iffy as to whether I’ll get to it. Matt Yglesias points to a sound byte that I first […]

Canada: American Military Deserters Not Welcome

canada-war-resisters-welcome-photo

If you’ve volunteered for service in the U.S. Armed Forces but don’t actually want to go to war, don’t count on hiding in Canada. The Canadian government’s effort to remove [U.S. Army deserter James Corey] Glass contrasts with the warm reception given to deserters and draft avoiders from the United States during the war in […]

John McCain ‘Love’ Ad

us-politics

John McCain’s latest ad, “Love,” contrasts himself with those dirty hippies who spent the summer of 1968 on sex, drugs, and rock and roll rather than being tortured for their country. The voiceover: It was a time of uncertainty, hope and change. The “Summer Of Love.” Half a world away, another kind of love — […]

Conservative Bloggers Silent On Torture?

military-soldier-sunset

Shaun Mullen wonders “Why Are Right-of-Center Bloggers So Silent On Torture?” He searched high and low and could find no right-of-center bloggers who made any mention at all, for example, of yesterday’s NYT story “China Inspired Interrogations at Guantánamo.”  I’d note that Andrew Sullivan wrote roughly 600 posts on the subject yesterday, including this one, […]

Obama = Charismatic = Hitler = Armageddon

us-politics

Arthur Silber is, as am I, fascinated by the cult of personality surrounding Barack Obama.  He notes some anecdotal creepy gushing on a local radio show and then Reactions of this kind to Obama are fairly common. No, they are not this extreme much of the time, but such statements are far from unusual. And […]

Addington Displays Contempt for Congress

David Addington Testimony Photo

David Addington, chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, was testifying under subpoena yesterday to the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. He took great delight in being a complete jackass, as Dana Milbank details. Could the president ever be justified in breaking the law? “I’m not going to answer a […]

General Taguba: Bush Administration ‘Guilty of War Crimes’

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Physicians for Human Rights has just published a report detailing the medical evidence of detainee torture at the hands of U.S. Personnel in Iraq, Afghanist, and Guantanamo Bay. Maj. General Antonio Taguba (Ret.) authored the preface to the report, in which he accuses the Administration of having committed war crimes: The profiles of these eleven […]

McCain Age ‘Code’ Talk

McCain Too Old?

Some supporters of John McCain accuse the Obama campaign of using “code words” to imply that McCain is old. “It is code; there is no question it is,” Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist who helped lead President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 reelection campaign, said when age surfaced as an issue. “They are trying to raise doubts.” […]

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